Friday, 6 August 2010

Moving on . . .

Two things happened in my cyber world in July 2010

My son helped create a new website for the growing number of cancer related articles from my other website. is designed to offer encouragement and inspiration for those on the cancer journey. Please check out the site and sign up for a free book, "How to Be a Cancer Friend". This site also includes its own cancer-related blog.

My website is now devoted to encourage and inspire other writers, and includes my Writing related blog. Sign up to follow my updates and receive a free book, "How to Journal: 20 ways to Remember".

Please visit me at both these sites and follow either or both. Sign up for the monthly newsletters to keep you up to date on news and specials. My Twitter posts will continue to appear below so you can click on any that interest you.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

What's the Accelerant?

Yesterday I was asked an interesting question. "What accelerant are you using?"

I have had an incredible writing month. I've received way more money from my
writing than I have ever received in one month. Goodness - make that many
months. I had written to CWG_S.Africa, my online group for Christian South African writers to tell them of my latest acceptance, and this was the question.

Background: Two weeks ago, I decided I had to up my writing income somehow. So I set an amount that I had to earn each month. However, there's no way freelance writers can predict how much they'll earn in a month, as every article takes months or even years to go through. So I decided the best way was to set a goal of how much writing I would submit each month, measuring it in ZAR. (S.African rand)

This month: Over the space of a few weeks, I received payment for:
  • a series of 14 devotions written on assignment last year
  • a devotion written eighteen months ago
  • four devotions published in four issues of a publication, written and submitted over several months, commencing nearly two years ago
  • four stories published in four different anthologies -- the first one submitted over a year ago

The fact that the finance all arrived in one month has not only been timely, I think it's God's way of showing me (and hopefully you) the importance of submitting on a regular basis. That will not only build up my platform, it'll also build up my bank balance.

So what's the accelerant?

Submit! Submit! Submit!

And before that you have to Write! Write! Write! 

Of course, this doesn't only apply to writing. It's a simple fact of life: The more you sow, the more you will reap.

And before you approach me for a loan, understand it'll probably be months before I enjoy a harvest like this again. Why? Because this included two "late payments". And because I haven't submitted at that rate on a regular basis. (This is about to change--as of this month.)

So fellow writers, my question for you is, What are you going to write before the end of the month?

And if you're not a writer, how can you sow seeds that will show profit (financial or any other way) that will enrich your life in the near future?

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Book Review: Embracing Your Second Calling by Dale Hanson Bourke

I am so glad I offered to review this book. It is one of the best I have read in many years. It's specifically for women in their "second half" of life. Dale quotes Carl Jung's statement, "We cannot live the afternoon of life according to the program of life's morning." This is what this book is all about. I am well into my afternoon of life, but hadn't spotted the shift until I read this book. Now I feel free to be me the "Me" that I've become, and allow the "Me" of the morning part of my life to relax.

I read the book in every available gap of time throughout the day and meditated on the questions for reflection while I was doing other things. I am now going back over it, taking a few pages at a time, and journaling as I go.

There is so much more to this book than just a reading book. I would love to go through it with a group of women who are in the afternoon of their lives, and Dale includes "Act"s for group discussion. Sadly, at this stage the book is not available in South Africa or I would definitely try to arrange this.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Book Review: Kaleidoscope by Patsy Clairmont

Patsy Clairmont describes a kaleidoscope as "a simple tube of mirrors filled with pebbles or beads". As we hold it up to the light and peer through the pinhole at the end, we see amazing colours and designs we didn't know existed. Patsy likens the book of Proverbs to a spiritual kaleidoscope. As we peer at the seemingly random statements that make up this book, Patsy helps us see "God's wit and wisdom in a whole new light". 

Monday, 3 May 2010

BOOK REVIEW: Live Free Series - by Jan Kern

True stories, true hope . . .

In the face of confusing messages in a chaotic world, teens and young adults need to know they don't have to get caught up or stuck in pain and brokenness. There is hope and a story God wants to unfold far greater than any they can imagine.
Through her writing and speaking, Jan Kern encourages that discovery. Get these books for the young adults in your life. If you're a parent of a young person, you can't afford to not read these books.

Scars That Wound, Scars That Heal - A Journey Out of Self-Injury 
"I want to stop . . . I feel like I did something to deserve this. When is it going to be over?"
- Jackie
Seduced by Sex, Saved by Love - A Journey Out of False Intimacy 
"The more I did it . . . the less I cared about myself."
- Suzy


Eyes Online, Eyes On Life - A Journey Out of Online Addictions
"I was so trapped . . . No person could possibly drag me out."
- Colin
Also available from Jan Kern: Take a Closer Look for Women
50 eye-opening meditations.

These uncommon and unexpected insights will inspire every area of your life. 

 All these books are available in your local bookstores or at

Book Review: To Catch a Thief Series - Jill Nelson

Reluctant Burglar Book 1
Art stole her heart . . . Now can she return the favor? Desiree Jacobs faces a ring of cutthroat art thieves and accepts help from the man she most distrusts in her attempt to return priceless art to the rightful owners. An unusual twist to a clever plot. An entertaining read. 

Reluctant Runaway Book 2 
Stolen Indian artifacts . . . A murdered museum guard . . . A missing woman . . . A baby in danger . . . Only Desiree can unearth the horrifying secret that links them all. A gripping story high in suspense and romance. 

Reluctant Smuggler Book 3
The say keep your friends close and your enemies closer . . . but what if you can't tell the difference.
Even with Tony at her side, Desiree needs more than luck to survive in this final novel of the series. Thank you for a fascinating trio of books, Jill. Keep up the good work!

Sunday, 2 May 2010

BOOK REVIEW: Hope for the Journey through Cancer by Yvonne Ortega

When you or your loved one face a diagnosis of cancer, and you're in the midst of hospital visits and treatments, you may wonder, Where is God? Where is his love and mercy?

Yvonne Ortega knows these feelings only too well.

In this book, written five years after her confrontation with cancer,Yvonne offers to walk alongside you with encouragement and compassion gleaned from God's Word. Yvonne reminds us that even when it looks like we are alone, God is there every step of the way.

As a cancer survivor myself, I wish this book had been around when I needed it. Well done Yvonne! Thank you for allowing me to share a little of the journey with you.
Order your copy today. Visit Yvonne's website at: Yvonne Ortega.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Home at Last - FCWC Part 9 (SCROLL DOWN TO PART 1)

March 8
11:00 Orlando Airport has to be one of the most beautiful airports in the world.

Built around a hub, the monorail takes you across the lake to the concourse where you meet your plane.

13:30 - 14:07 The trip from Orlando to Atlanta was spectacular. Bob, my friend from the trip into Orlando had pointed out how low the watertable is in Florida, so this time I was armed with my camera. I would have liked to get out of the plane and wash the windows but didn't think it advisable.

I had a few hours lay-over at the busy Atlanta airport.

It was amazing standing at the window staring at the huge plane that would shortly take me on a 16 1/2 hour flight across the Atlantic Ocean.

18:55 Florida time - March 9, 17:05 S.African time It was a long, long flight, yet not as bad as the way to America, as the plane wasn't full.

I had also finally managed to wangle an aisle seat, so I could get up and move around as I wanted to. Because there were seats to spare, the crew moved us around so there were only two passengers to three seats. Much more comfortable.

It was a very bumpy flight, and we had our seat belts fastened for a good deal of the trip. As I gazed down at the lights of America I wondered if or when I would ever be there again.

The shades were kept closed throughout the flight, and the cabin remained in darkness until two hours before landing. Then as the shades went up, we gazed at the desert land below us. We were over Africa.

After breakfast, the plane started to descend, and before long we were over the city of Johannesburg.My sister-in-law and nephew were there to meet me, and we drove to their home, not far from the airport. My brother is unfortunately in France, so I won't see him this time.

23:00 Marion, who was supposed to have come with me, has just been to see me. Her husband, Noel, drove her over to spend the evening with me. She had her X-rays and scan with her and my goodness! What a mess!

Praise the Lord, the surgeon seems to have done an amazing job with her surgery but she will boast a bionic wrist for the rest of her life. It's still in a cast and will be for another few weeks.

We spent a good few hours with me telling her all I could about the conference and showing her my photos which were still on my camera. In addition to some freebies and handouts, I took her a copy of Jeff Gerke's new book, "The Art & Craft of Writing Christian Fiction." I made several attempts to get Jeff to autograph this, but each time I had the book with me, I couldn't find him, and when I left the book in the room, there he was. Typical.

And so the Florida Conference Adventure is almost behind me. Only one short trip to go.

March 10 Straight after breakfast, Denise took me to the Oliver Tambo International airport. I booked in, and walked towards the departure gate. I stopped to adjust my jacket, and heard a frantic voice calling, "Mrs. Corder!" I turned in surprise. The official who had booked me in had chased me across the concourse, waving my passport and ticket. I'd left them on his desk.

I've travelled all these thousands of miles and I nearly lost them in Johannesburg! It's time I got home!

10:15 - 11:55 The plane took off ten minutes late but landed in Port Elizabeth ten minutes early. As the plane dipped over the sea I stared down at the beautiful coastline of South Africa's Windy City, and my heart soared. It's been a long way and an amazing time. A lot of work awaits. But it's good to be home.

So with a final, "Thank you Billie and faculty for all your hard work. And thank you Cecil Murphey for making it possible for me to be there!" this is Shirley Corder signing out from Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

End of Conference, Beginning of Return: FCWC Part 8

March 7 Well I did of course . . . sleep in that is. Just as well I'd almost finished my packing before falling into bed.

I had just leaped out the bed when there was a furious banging on my door. Yvonne and Cheryl had come round to make sure I was up. I did another race through the bathroom and makeup regime and arrived at the dining room in time to snatch a quick breakfast before heading for my appointment.

8:15 - 8:30 I'm so glad I didn't arrive late for my appointment with Literary Agent, Les Stobbe as this was a profitable time. He knows the international field and actually has two South African writers, one in Cape Town and one in Johannesburg. I'll be sending off my two proposals to him within this week.

8:30 - 9:30 This was our last time together in the continuing class on Branding Yourself for Maximum Impact with Laura Christenson. This has been good, although I haven't got as much out of it as I might have as I've had a number of appointments during these classes. This meant I had to skip sections. However I have all the handouts, and we're getting the CD of all the sessions, so I will definitely sit down with these workshops and go through them, pen in hand.

At the end we went outside for a group photograph. It's been a fun group of folk, with good times of sharing as we struggled to find our writing brand and work with new ways to market ourselves. Thank you Laura!

9:45 - 10:45 I attended my last Elective Workshop of the conference. This was Taking Your Personal Story to the Public by Craig Bubeck, Editorial Director for Wesleyan Publishing House.

Craig had a number of fresh suggestions, and I came away with an exciting possibility for VOC (Victory Over Cancer) if it isn't accepted in its current form. If it doesn't get picked up by a publisher, it just might be a plan to turn it into a novel - which could be my material for NaNoWriMo in November.

Yvonne and I took one last look at the bookshop, both aware we couldn't possibly fit one more thing into our bulging suitcases.

11:00 - 11:50 We then joined the rest of the conference in the auditorium for the closing session with Eva Marie Everson, award-winning author and speaker.

11:50 After a flurry of hugs and goodbyes, many people left immediately in order to meet their planes in Orlando, an hour-and-a-half drive away. Yvonne and I gave each other one final hug and Cheryl and Yvonne drove off in their hired car.

12:00 - 12:30 I fetched my cases from my room and parked them near the door of the center. I had time for a quick lunch before joining another three ladies for our drive to Orlando airport. Once at the airport, I phoned the shuttle to fetch me and returned to the Travelodge as I was too late for the connecting flight for S.Africa.

21:00 I had a frustrating evening as the Internet connection in my room is faulty. I was attempting to change my seating arrangements as I didn't want to have a window seat all the way to S.Africa again. I also tried to talk to Rob and friends on Skype but I've now given up and I'm on my way to bed.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Busy, Busy, Busy . . . FCWC Part 7

March 6 Did I mention the alarm clock in my room didn't work? And my cellphone is dead and can't be recharged in America? Ahh well . . . the inevitable happened. I woke up as breakfast was starting at the main centre. Crazy rush. In and out the shower, clothes on, makeup on with one hand and shoes on with the other. Brush through my hair as I ran out the door, grabbing my folder and keys on the way. And yes, I made the end of breakfast.

8:30 - 10:45 During Lauren's branding class (no, we had no cattle present) I had to slip out twice for appointments, one with an agent and one with an editor. The editor wants to see one proposal, the agent wants to see both. I'm notching up plenty homework for when I get back to S.Africa as these all need to be reformatted to meet their requirements.

11:00 - 11:50 General Session included a lovely time of worship followed by an amusing talk by Jesse Florea, then it was off to lunch. During the meal I spoke to Elaina Meyers, an editor whom I wanted an appointment with, but her time-slots were full. Although she works with children's writers, she was also the only representative of Standard Publishing present. She offered me a time after tonight's session. Yikes. I hope I'm more awake than I was last night.

She then spoke to the lady next to her, and my ears pricked up. She was discussing church programmes that kids could take part in as well as grownups. When the other lady left, I asked Elaina some questions and discovered she was looking for writers who could write programmes for the church calendar. She showed me some examples and I nearly exploded with excitement. The articles she showed me were similar to what I have been writing for the church since I was in my teens. I came away from the lunch table with a promise from her that she'd send me a sample copy, and a promise from me that I would send her some skits. So here's some more of those articles I wasn't going to write . . .

13:30 - 14:30 I had an appointment with an editor, so went there before Jon Vonhof's workshop, Fine-tuning your Writing Niche. The editor's next appointment didn't show up and we had a slightly longer time together. That in itself was good, but it meant I was too late to show up at Jon's workshop. I apologised later, and he said he'd send me his handouts after the conference.

One of the wonderful perks of this conference is that they're sending us all a copy of a CD with all the workshops on it as mp3s. That's so great, as it means we can listen to the workshops we've missed, and re-listen to those we've half-forgotten.

From 15:00 - 17:00 each day there is Walk in Manuscript CPR where you can go for help with any manuscript you are struggling with. I didn't go at all, but what a great idea.

14:45 - 15:45 I attended Craig van Buseck's elective workshop, Professional Public Speaking to Promote your Writing. Unfortunately I had to leave half way through as I had an other appointment, this time with another agent, Diana Flegal.

This was a case of instant bonding. We both took to each other, and it was like talking to a friend I'd known for years. She obviously liked my proposals and has asked me to send both proposals to her, along with copies of my one-sheets. She was very encouraging and I know I'd love to work with her. She stressed that I needed to start building up a speaking platform now, and not wait for my book(s) to come out. I hadn't thought of that, but it's an interesting concept.

16:00 - 17:00 I attended Larry Leech's Critique Groups that Work. He spoke about Word Weavers, and I came away from there challenged to see if I can get a similar group going here in Port Elizabeth. (In my free time of course, all you sceptics.)

Before supper Cheryl, Yvonne and I dashed down to the pier to take a couple of last photographs. Yvonne and I braved the cold and took off our jackets to take a snap that we can use to try and compile a group shot with our other Truth Talk members. We could hardly stand still for shivering so I'm not sure we'll be able to use the photo.

18:45 - 20:30 After the evening meal, the General Session included the Awards Presentation with two of the main prizes going to a youngster from the teen track. Amazing.

Angela Hunt, well-known best-selling novelist, blessed us with a beautiful song of worship, which she sang using sign language at the same time.

The speaker for the evening was the well-known Jerry B. Jenkins, author of The Left Behind Series. Jerry knew we needed some light relief, and had us rolling in our seats as he told us story after story about people he knew in the writing world.

20:30 I wanted to get a book I'd bought by Jerry signed by him, but I had an appointment with Elaina Meyers. So Yvonne took my book and got it autographed, while I sat with Elaina. She too has asked for a proposal of one of my books. So add that to the pile of homework.

There were Special Interest groups on various topics, but I elected to go to my room and finish packing.

I had some special interest moments of my own, trying to fit everything into my cases, including a large tin of Virginian peanuts from Yvonne, and a bag of tapes. (Amazing how much smaller tapes are when you throw out the cases!)

It's incredible to think the conference is almost over, and yet what an action-packed few days we've had. I'm fast approaching information-overload, so it's probably just as well my brain will be able to ease off after tomorrow afternoon.

I have an important interview tomorrow - with the last agent from my list. So let's hope I don't sleep in again.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Some God-Moments: FCWC Part 6

March 5 I didn't make the early morning devotions although I'd hoped to.

8:30 After breakfast Yvonne and I went off to our continuing class, Branding Yourself for Maximum Impact. After ten minutes I had to leave for a 15-minute appointment with an editor. This was a God-appointment. I had not intended to see this editor as her company publishes my critique partner's book. Firstly I didn't want to compete with her, but I also didn't see them wanting to take a second book in a similar category.

It turned out the manuscript submission team had given her my manuscript and she liked it. So I have to send her my proposal and sample writing.

The continuing class went on until 10:45 with a 15 minute break in the middle.

11:00-11:50 Cec Murphey spoke well at the General Session, attended by all, then it was off to lunch, where I sat with a magazine editor who had said she wanted to spend time with me. Before the conference I decided not to look for articles to write, as I can do that without a conference, but I came away from the meal with an article to write.

13:30 - 14:30 I attended Cheryl Cowell's workshop on How to Write a Dynamite Query. Once again, I had to slip out for an appointment with an editor.

14:45 - 15:45 I went to Craig von Buseck's workshop on Writing Non Fiction Using Fiction Techniques. Both these speakers did well, especially considering the "nap-time" hour of the day.

16:00 -17:00 I missed my elective workshop due to an appointment with Cec Murphey. He gave me some good advice on agent choices. By the time I left him, it was too late to go into a new subject, so I sat on a bench overlooking the lake and did some deep breathing, punctuated by some prayer.

17:30 - 18:30 I spent supper time talking to a faculty member, also about agent choice. On my way out of the dining room, I greeted an editor from a magazine I've written for before. She immediately asked me if I'd write an article for her magazine about the conference. Sjoe! That's the second article I've picked up today without even trying. Thank You Lord.

18:45 - 20:30 After supper, we attended the General Session where Cec spoke once more. He is a pleasure to listen to: relaxed and chatty, yet makes some excellent points. This is his last evening. He and Twila fly home tomorrow.

20:30 I got to my feet, intending to move on to one of the After Hours sessions, but my head went into a spin and for a moment I thought I was going to have a blackout. It gave me a fright, so I decided I needed to chill out and head for an early bed. I'm only now going to put the light out - after 11, but at least I've done my homework and I'm organised for the next day.

It's hard to believe we're halfway through the conference, yet the days are long. There is so much packed into them. I have a number of appointments scheduled for tomorrow so it's going to be a heavy day. Here's praying for a good night's sleep.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

The Rush Begins: FCWC Part 5

March 4: The day started with a rush that never eased up.

9:30 First time conferees met with Christine Tangvald for a briefing on how to get the most out of the time. One thing she stressed: our goal is to seek permission to submit. My prayer is for interested publishers for one of the two book proposals I have with me. My deepest wish is for an agent. We'll see what transpires.

10:45 - 12:00 The opening session took place in the main auditorium, then off to lunch. After lunch we signed up for a 15-minute appointment with one person out of the +- 60 strong faculty.

12:00 From now on, at every lunch and evening meal, conferees select which table they wish to sit at. Each table is hosted by an agent, publisher, editor, or other member of faculty, and those at the table discuss writing issues with the table host.

13:30 - 14:30 We could attend one of six different panels. I went to the Agents Panel where I listened to five agents discuss various points. Three of them seem a fit for my books - so I aim to speak to all of them if possible.

14:45 - 15:45 Yvonne and I signed up together for the continuing class, Branding Yourself for Maximum Impact, by Laura Christenson. An interesting session, and I learned something about myself I had never realised before. Am I going to tell you? Nope. I'm still trying to grasp its significance for myself.

16:00 - 17:00 Out of the nine elective workshops we could choose from, I selected Trends in Christian Publishing with Vicki Crumpton of Revel Publishing. Vicki spoke well and I learned a lot about electronic media.

17:30 - 18:30 We all met in the dining room for an early but excellent dinner. The food is excellent - soup, a choice of main menu, and a selection of puddings. Plus juice, salads, tea, coffee, and fizzy drinks.

18:45 - 20:15 The General Session included beautiful worship led by Robin (left) and Janis once more.

The speaker was Cec Murphey who gave a simple but profound message on vulnerability.

20:30 I attended one of a selection of "After Hours" sessions which took us through until nearly 22:00, then I signed up for more agents and publishers before getting back to my room and falling into bed.

Breakfast is at 7:30, I have an appointment at 8:15 - and the alarm doesn't work. Oh help.

Hugs Galore! FCWC Part 4

March 3 contd: I went to the reception area to submit my two book proposals for review.

As I left the building, a car pulled up. I noticed a small person in the passenger side of the car and immediately recognised Yvonne Ortega, my critique partner for the last seven years, whom I had never met. She noticed me at the same moment and leapt from the car with a scream and ran towards me. How amazing to hug one another after all these years.

At supper time, I saw Cec Murphey, the amazing sponsor of my trip to the Florida conference, and his assistant, Twila Belk, at the next table. Cec greeted me with a warm hug. How wonderful to meet him in person after all the years we've been in touch through writers' groups on the Internet. (Left to right: Yvonne, Cec and myself.)

After a tasty supper, served cafeteria-style in a large dining-room, Yvonne, her friend Cheryl and I joined the early delegates at the pre-conference session.

A short time of worship led by Robin Stanley (agent-advocate) and Janis Whipple (editor/writer), Jon Vonhoff (free-lance writer with an excellent website) spoke to all the newbies at the conference.

He started off by asking if "Sheryll from South Africa" was present. (I love the American pronunciation of Shirl.) He hugged me and gave me a 2010 edition of Sally Stuart's Writers' Guide, which he had promised me in an email. Wonderful! He then presented me with a card from a dear cyber friend, Jan Kern, followed by another hug - this time "from Jan". Yvonne, Jan and I were three of the original critique partners when I formed Truth Talk seven years ago.

Jon then called me up to the podium to share with the group the event that had led to me coming alone to the conference. As I told of Marion's accident and subsequent surgery there were sympathetic murmurs around the auditorium and after the meeting many people asked me to send her greetings.

Although I am still trying to overcome the a sick feeling of "What am I dong here?", everyone is so friendly, and it's wonderful to put faces to names from my various writers' groups.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Cold Nose and Cold Feet - FCWC Part 3:

Well when I said the next entry would be "later" I wasn't kidding. I didn't think it would be this long. Still, I'm going to continue the same format. So follow along with me from the point of my arrival in Orlando.

1 March: Motel comfortable. To buy lunch/supper I had to cross a busy 6-lane highway - 3 lanes in each direction. Not as easy as it sounds. I had to keep reminding myself that the cars were coming from the wrong direction. (We drive on the left in South Africa - America drives on the right.)

I discovered the lead I had to connect my laptop to the American system fit the system fine -- but didn't connect to my laptop. I felt lonely without Marion so switched on TV. There's a hurricane warning for tomorrow afternoon, and wide-spread snowfalls over most of the country. Climbed into bed and put the light out at 7 p.m. Unbelievably I slept until 8 the next day.

2 March: After an enjoyable continental breakfast, I caught the shuttle to the Florida Mall where I soon found the correct lead for my laptop. The shops are beautiful and so well stocked. After buying a few things, I noticed the sky had turned dark and the palm trees were swaying ominously. I phoned for the shuttle and headed for "home". I closed myself into my room and chatted to Rob, Marion and Ruth, then had another early night.

3 March: I woke several times to hear heavy rain, but the air conditioner gave a "white noise" so I went straight back to sleep. Did we have a hurricane? No idea but they sure had snow up country. It's freezing.

New cyber friend, Glenda, collected me from the foyer at 11 a.m. We drove for over an hour past orange groves and through gentle hills, to the picturesque town of Mt. Dora. We strolled past quaint old-fashioned shops, admiring many antiques on show.

The people of Mt. Dora sure love their dogs. We saw a dog in a stroller, a dog bakery, and a shop that sold Alice bands and fur coats for dogs. We had lunch in a quaint Old English Tea Room restaurant then headed on to Lake Yale Conference Centre.

When I saw the notice announcing the conference centre I wanted to jump from the car and run in the opposite direction. What was I doing here? How could I face this at all, never mind alone? What if . . . ? What if not . . . ?

With the support of Glenda, I registered, collected my room key, and with a quaking heart and rubbery knees, made my way through the trees to my room. What will the next five days hold? Why am I here? Not only are my nose and hands freezing, I have cold feet at the thought of the next few days.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

A long Night - FCWC Part 2

More excerpts from my journal:

28 Feb 20:30 I'm finally on the plane waiting to take off for Atlanta.

Our youngest, David, and daughter-in-law Pam came over for lunch with the two kiddies. It was so wonderful to see Timmy (6) and Sammy (4) - who jumped into my arms, thrilled to see me. We had a fabulous afternoon sitting outside at the swimming pool.

I spoked to Neil, Marion's husband twice. The operation was a success, and she now faces a long recovery period. Am I excited? Nope. It was a good time of fellowship with the family, but all the time at the back of my mind I was aware of time clicking silently by. (With the digital era it no longer ticks by - one less cliche to worry about!)

At 17:30 I changed my clothes and closed my cases - then had a major attack of the jitters. What had I forgotten? What if I didn't . . . couldn't . . . forgot to . . . ? My family rallied round and shoved me out the door and into the waiting car.

Once we got to the airport I was very grateful to have Al with me. He is an experienced traveller so guided me through all the procedure. Unfortunately we haven't been able to change my seat to an aisle seat - so I'm stuck at the window. Normally that would be good -but 16 1/2 hours in a window seat for a night flight? Not good. It's already pitch dark and the journey has yet to begin.

23:00 I have interesting travelling companions - a S.African orthopaedic surgeon going on holiday to the States, and a US resident returning home after 3 weeks touring S.Africa. Both very nice guys, and the one in the centre especially is determined to look after me. :-) Am I excited? Nope. Very tired, but too high-wired to sleep. I just watched a movie and am about to play solitaire on the on-board tv.

March 1 - 6:30 Actually slept for a short time. Most unusual, but felt much better for it. We've just crossed the coastline. There is a beautiful early dawn sky as the sun starts to rise. Below the lights of the USA twinkle. Am I excited? Oh yes! Now it's become real, after a 16-and-a-half-hour night.

We're dropping fast, so next entry will be from Atlanta or maybe Orlando.

The Time is Here! - FCWC Part 1

Well, I'm actually here in the USA. I'm going to attempt to write a daily blog about the activities. No guarantee I'll have the time, but I'll try anyway.

Let me start with some excerpts from my journal over the past few days:

26 Feb - Why does everyone keep asking if I'm excited? There's too much to do, too much to think about. Excitement will come later.

27 Feb - 11 a.m. Shattering news from Marion Ueckermann who's supposed to be coming with me. She's sitting in the emergency section of the hospital. She's broken her wrist. Oh man. She insists she's still coming, but I doubt it.

12:30 Sitting on plane at Port Elizabeth airport, awaiting take-off. Am I excited yet? Definitely not. Sick to the stomach over Marion. That's all I can think of.

14:00 On the ground Johannesburg. Plane taxiing to the terminal. Excited? Tense more like it. What will the news be from Marion when I switch on my cellphone?

23:00 What a hectic few hours. As anticipated, Marion can't fly. She has a severely fractured wrist and will be operated on tomorrow morning. What a blow for us both - particularly for her.

During our conference preparation, we've been sharing the load: "You get that, and I'll get this." Result is there were a number of things I needed to get urgently -- and it's Saturday afternoon. Shops close early.

My brother collected me from the airport and whisked me to his home where I gulped down a cup of tea. Then he raced me to the shops where I charged from shop to shop replacing the things Marion was going to supply. We got home and went out to dinner together. Now the family are in bed and I'm catching up on emails etc. Chatted to Marion a short time ago. She's devastated.

Am I excited? Nope: disappointed, anxious, tired, tense - anything but excited. Excitement will come later -- when there's time to breathe.

Next post will cover the journey.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Close Encounter of an African Kind

Today we took our grandkids who are visiting from Kazakhstan, to a nearby lion and game park as part of their Christmas present from us. Little did we know the unique experience we would share.

In a drive-through section, three lionesses lay sleeping alongside the road. The white one raised its head and gazed at me, while the other two showed no interest.

A truck came speeding out of another enclosure nearby and went off down the road. We think it was the truck used to feed the lions.

"Our" three obviously thought it was feeding time for them too. They got to their feet and roared in annoyance after the retreating van. I was happily taking photographs, while Rob kept the engine ticking over. Our teenage grandchildren sat in the back of our car, reveling in the sights and sounds of Africa. Our daughter and son-in-law watched from their car just in front of us.

Next thing, the white lioness looked in our direction and walked lazily across to our car.
What a wonderful photo opportunity, I thought.

But she was too close. She walked round the car to the back, so I re-focussed my attention on the other two.

Next thing we felt the car bounce, and at the same time my granddaughter said, "Oh my. Look at that."

We swung round, to see the lion's massive head up against the back window of our car. She had mounted the back of the car with her front paws. Her freckled nose was pressed against the back of the glass as her pale blue eyes gazed in, studying the contents of the car. (That was us.) I will never forget the view of my grandchildren sitting in the car with a lion literally looking over their shoulders.

I aimed my camera at her. Suddenly she lifted her head back, pulling with it our window-wiper. She seemed to be trying to pull it loose from the car. Rob tried to reverse slightly to nudge her away. I then noticed a second lioness come to join the fun. Enough was enough. Forget the photos. Rob put the car into gear and pulled away. We felt a resistance initially, then the car pulled free and we drove from the enclosure, watched by all three animals.

As soon as we drove through the double electrified security gates, we stopped both cars and raced round to look at the back of our car. There were several bite marks right through the bumper, which in our car is part of the bodywork. Further scrape marks and saliva ran down from the holes. On the window was a clear noseprint. (It looks way worse in reality than it does on this photo.)

A warden came over just then and saw what had happened. He was astounded, and said although he had heard of things like this happening, he had never actually seen the damage.

We later learned at the restaurant that this same lioness had done this to two other vehicles today, us being the first. In one case she actually pulled the bumper right off the car. So I guess she was having a really bad car day.

Now we await with interest the reaction of our insurance company when we ask them to pay to replace the bumper. "A lion tried to eat it."